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Online Prostitution is Booming in Indonesia

By Thibaud (Jakarta100bars) →
With the current crackdown on red light districts and massage parlours everywhere in the country, for instance in Kalijodo in Jakarta or Dolly in Surabaya, online prostitution has been booming in Indonesia.

Surprisingly, sexual services are not necessarily advertised through specific adult sites. Many of these, like the famous Adult Friend Finder, are blocked by the government and only available if you download a VPN (see Best VPN for Indonesia to see how to do). Prostitutes, pimps and mafias use mainstream websites and apps instead like Facebook, Twitter, WeChat, BeeTalk, Instagram, Badoo or Tinder. If you are using any of these, you have probably noticed that there are more and more profiles of prostitutes, to the point that it can ruin the experience for "normal" users.

This is the case on WeChat. They have an interesting feature called "Look Around" that can be used to meet people near you. In Indonesia, it has been completely hijacked by organized online prostitution. As soon as you turn it on, you'll receive chat requests from various "spas" and "massage girls" offering to visit you in your room 24/7. You can barely see normal people anymore.

On the dating app Badoo, it has become very difficult to meet girls who are not looking for money, directly or indirectly. They rarely mention openly that they are prostitutes but they will often say in their profiles things like: "Butuh uang (need money)", "Tidak suka cowok pelit (I don't like stingy guy), "I like shopping", etc.
Typical "soft" prostitution profile on Badoo ("I like generous guys who can make me happy")
Some are more straight-forward and will write: "Open for BO (Booking Out) to your hotel for LT /ST (Long Time/Short Time).

In this case, it is likely that the person behind the profile is a pimp and not the actual girl. It's only after you agree to a transaction and pay a down payment (DP) that he will contact the girl, pick her up, and bring her to your place. In some cases, the girls have a hotel room or an apartment where they can meet customers. Kalibata City is famous for having many apartments used entirely for online prostitution. 

On Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, prostitutes can easily be found using some specific hashtags such as #bokingcewek#wanitabayaran, #cewekbispak and many more. Those looking for girls in a specific location will add a city name, for instance: #bispaksurabaya (bispak means "bisa pakai" = "can be used"). For any of these keywords, hundreds of girls profiles will show up.

They manage their fan pages in a professional way, teasing their fans with pictures and exclusive videos, posting screenshots of clients bank transfers, giving information about their whereabout and their availability.
A girl post the proof of bank transfer from a client and informs she has 2 slots available
Some will also do packages and promotions, just like any real, well-organized massage parlour, spa or bordello. On Twitter, Riri Manja 28 does a phone sex promotion for April for instance:
Phone sex promotion from a girl on twitter
Prostitutes and their pimps rely also on Whatsapp, Line and BlackBerry Messenger to communicate with clients and set up meeting locations and time. 

Recently, some bigger groups have emerged, managing several girls at once. For instance, the Silvi Group that operates on instagram has a network of girls in Jakarta, Medan, Surabaya and Palembang. Go Crot operates on twitter, managing dozens of girls in Surabaya.
Advertising for Silvi Group on Instagram
The Police has made very few arrests so far. It is probably impossible for them to stop this trend as both the demand and offer for prostitution is so high in Indonesia.

Considering this though, I wonder if it is a smart move for the Government to go ahead with its plan to close down all red-light districts by 2019. We see that the sex trade will just move from the streets to the virtual world.

Are the girls safer online? Wouldn't it better, as Ahok suggested, to legalize prostitution and to organize it in dedicated spaces? This could make the job easier for the Government and NGOs to protect sex workers from abuse/violence and to give them counseling and regular medical check-ups.

13 Illogical Facts About Drugs in Indonesia

By Thibaud (Jakarta100bars) →

"Indonesia has some of the World's strictest drugs laws". 

This statement is repeated in most local and international media, but it is quite inaccurate if you look at the facts. A more realistic statement would be to say that Indonesia has some of the world's most inconsistent laws and policies against drugs.

The official rhetoric from the Government is that the country wants to protect the nation's children from the danger of drugs, yet the current policies are causing even more suffering while failing to stop drug use.

An example? Parents in Indonesia are required to denounce their own children if they become aware of them taking drugs. This causes drug users to hide their addiction to their family, and in the end prevent them from getting the support they need.

Unfortunately, there are quite many other troubling incoherences. I have found 13 of them as follow:

1) Sensationalistic speeches about drugs without any reliable statistical data

The National Drug Agency (BNN) has shown its incapacity in providing the public with credible statistics regarding the number of deaths from drug use in Indonesia.

Jokowi once spoke of 50 deaths per day, but after the figures were criticized, he started to use new ones: "33 people die of drug addition every day in Indonesia".

This number comes out of nowhere (it might be based on surveys) and it must be used with the utmost precaution. Furthermore, this number does not say whether these people died from overdose, from suicide, or from drug-related diseases such as HIV. It does not tell as well if those deaths were from heroin, ecstasy, marijuana, misused over-the-counter drugs, etc. 

Even if we consider 33 deaths per day, it means 12,045 deaths per year for a population of 250 M people. That's a 48 per million death rate.

Surprisingly, the Netherlands, one of the countries with the less punitive drug laws on the planet, has a 10.2 per million death rate only.

If the Indonesian statistics are correct, then we should wonder why the Indonesian death rate is 4 times as high as in the Netherlands. What is the point of having the World's strictest laws against drugs only to fail miserably?
If the Indonesian statistics are incorrect, thus inflated, we have to wonder why would the government try to sensationalize the drug issue?

I was reading an interview of one of Indonesia's top policemen, Budi Waseso, following the seizure of 2 tons of Marijuana. According to him, the 2 tons of marijuana could have killed 21 million Indonesians. This kind of statement is a proof of either abysmal ignorance or a deliberate will to fool people. 
The Indonesian medias are also very active in spreading questionable information. Metro TV was mentioning 117,400 potential victims of marijuana per day!

2) Making the drug issue a national priority while ignoring other preventable causes of death

Let's give the benefit of the doubt to Jokowi and consider that there are indeed 12,045 drug-related deaths every year in Indonesia. This data should be compared to other causes of avoidable death in the country:

Tuberculosis: Indonesia has more than 90,000 deaths from tuberculosis every year, a preventable and curable disease. Most of the efforts to fight it are not coming from the Government but from international aid agencies, namely the Global Fund. Read More on the NY Times: Losing the Fight Against Tuberculosis

The fight against Malaria, which used to be one of the top causes of deaths in Indonesia is mostly undertaken by International organizations as well and almost all of its funding is foreign:
Financing of Malaria Programs in Indonesia (WHO)
Car accidents:  In 2002, there were just over 8,000 road deaths every year in Indonesia. In 2014, that number rose to almost 40,0000 deaths, that's a 500% increase!
Yet, you don't see the Government declaring war on potholes nor many campaigns of prevention. 

Tobacco kills over 200,000 persons every year in Indonesia. The number of smokers is actually rising as Indonesia is failing to tackle the issue. Isn't it ironic that the top two richest men in Indonesia are legal drug sellers -> Budi Hartono (Djarum - 16,5 billion $) and Susilo Wonowidjojo (Gudang Garam - 8 billion $)?
Don't Quit Smoking ? Advertising for LA Lights cigarettes
I am not saying that drug is not a problem. On the contrary, like every issue, it requires rational and pragmatic solutions. Populist, emotionally-charged speeches about "saving the nation" and "waging war on drugs", based on questionable statistics, are actually damaging. They encourage only the most punitive solutions, the ones that have failed so far everywhere else in the world.

3) Indonesia is the country in Southeast Asia that spends the less for healthcare (after Myanmar)

While the Indonesian Government talks a lot about the health of its citizens and how it is threatened by drugs, it actually spends very little for them. According to the World Health Organization, only 2,6% of Indonesia's GDP is spent for healthcare. 

This is to be compared with the spendings of the following countries: Vietnam 6,8%, Thailand 3,9%, Singapore 4%, Laos 4,5%, Malaysia 4,4%, Philippines 3,6%, China 5,1%, Cambodia 5,6%, Japan 9,5%, South Korea 6,9%.

Only Myanmar is spending less as a percentage of its GDP, namely 2%.

4) A War on Drug, but not a War on Drug-Related Deaths

The efforts of Indonesia to prevent drug-related deaths are very limited. Most harm reduction programs currently existing are actually financed and led by Foreign donors. 

Drug use and the spread of HIV are intrinsically linked as it is estimated that up to 50% of injecting drug users in Indonesia are contaminated with HIV.

Reducing the number of drug-related deaths would require fighting against the transmission of HIV through needle sharing and educating drug users about safe sex practices.

The budget to fight Aids in Indonesia is mostly financed by International sources, not by the Indonesia Government itself. Out of $50,831,105 allocated in 2010, only $19,841,442 was financed by the domestic/public sector and the rest by International donors.

People would argue that Indonesia is a poor country and cannot afford to spend more money. What I would argue is that the Jakarta Council was able to find over $14 million dollars to purchase UPS systems that no one asked for. It seems that money can always be found when the objective is to fill the pockets of a few.

Furthermore, Indonesia's strict drug laws have been known to worsen the difficulties for drug users. Harsh punishments will cause them to hide instead of seeking for help. If they do not have access to clean syringes, they are more likely to get HIV, and in turn, more likely to spread it to other people. The longer they are hiding, the longer the risk of spreading the disease.

It makes me very confused about the objectives of the Government. Is it trying to help drug users as it pretends it is, or is it only interested in punishing them for making the wrong choices?

5) More Indonesian on death row in foreign countries than in Indonesia itself

In 2013, there were 188 Indonesians on death row abroad on drug charges (236 in total). This number should be compared to the only 56 Indonesians on death row in Indonesia.

If we take Malaysia, it has 250 Malaysians on death row abroad, but 600 on death row in the country. This makes more sense to me.

I find such an imbalance, more inmates abroad than in Indonesia, quite revealing: Most likely, Indonesians who are arrested in Indonesia for drugs can simply buy their way out to escape the death row while Indonesians arrested abroad cannot.

What disturbs me is that it means poor people are more likely to be in jail while rich ones will not risk anything. According to Rudhy Wedhasmara, the founder of 'Empowerment and Justice Action' (EJA) Surabaya, an NGO that helps victims of narcotics: 

"We see that in practice the majority of those who are caught, then eventually sentenced to death are those who are weak, psychologically vulnerable to exploitation, and pressed for financial crush".

6) The executions target foreigners in priority, even though they represent only half of the death row inmates

Foreigners are often subjected to harsher sentences than Indonesians, unless they can bribe their way out or benefit from mysterious help (see below about incoherences).

Many people don't seem to understand how the death penalty works in Indonesia. When a death penalty sentence is given to an inmate, there is not a specific date given for his execution. He could spend the rest of his life waiting.

In fact, the one who decides about the execution is the President. He is the one who chooses who should be executed and when.

In January 2015, Jokowi hand-picked 6 persons to be executed, among which 5 foreigners. In April 2015, Jokowi selected 9 foreigners among 10 persons to be executed. 

What is surprising is that there are only 35 foreigners on death row in Indonesia and 56 Indonesians. This mean that foreigners represent 87,5% of the executed, but only 38% of the inmates on death row.

In several cases, it has been blatant that there is a discrimination between Indonesians and Foreigners. For instance, Frenchmen Serge Atlaoui was given the death penalty but the Indonesians who were running the lab he was working at were only condemned to a life sentence.

7) Indonesia is sending drug users to prison instead of rehabilitation 

"These young folks who have become drug addicts have lost their past and present so we should not allow them to lose their future. We should guide them back. They don't belong in a penitentiary but in a rehabilitation centre" Susilo Bambang Yudhono

In spite of the recent efforts to build more rehabilitation facilities, 54,000 detainees in Indonesia in 2013 were drug users, out of a total of 162,000 inmates. This should be compared to the 18,000 only who were sent to rehabilitation the same year. 

The first explanation is the law itself. Even though officially, Jokowi talks about drug users as victims who should be protected, the fact is there is little differentiation made between a drug user and a drug trafficker. 

Even the 2014 amendment to the 2009 Drug Law stipulates that unless a drug user turns himself in to the police, he will face jail time. Judges and courts are themselves not following the law and sending people caught using drugs in prison most of the time.

The other issue of course is the lack of rehabilitation centers. The Government talks about building more facilities, yet it still has to act on its promise. 

Because of this, the prisons are full of simple users which is even more risky for them. They are more likely to keep using drugs in prison as it is known to be widely available there while being more exposed to risks of HIV. Read more on the UNODC website.

In spite of the "save our children" speech, many Indonesians have a negative view about drug users and do not seem to be interested in rehabilitated them. 

Even the Chairman of Nahdlatul Ulama, one of the largest Islamic organisations in Indonesia which is in charge of establishing drug rehabilitation centers in the country declared :"Drug addicts deserve severe punishment, namely death".

8) Frequent cases of abuse of drug users by police officers, including rapes

Another incoherence about the so-called will from the Indonesian Government to protect drug users is the fact that many of them, instead of being guided by the police are actually abused.

There are several stories reporting these cases, but if you want to know more, I advise you to read the following: Abuses against injecting drug users in Indonesia

According to this study, 60% of drug users faced police abuse during their detention time, including beating of the feet, hands, chest, and head by officers. Sexual abuses were mentioned in 6% of the testimonies.

I also advise you to read this article about girls, sometimes prostitutes, who were gang raped by policemen so that they would not be charged with drug abuse.

Again, are we trying to punish drug users or are we trying to help them?

9) Celebrities, VIPs, Drug Lords, Policemen avoid harsher sentences

Sentencing in Indonesia is extremely arbitrary. In general, VIPs, celebrities, policemen and military officers avoid prison and go directly to rehabilitation (if not home).

For instance, when Putri Aryanti Haryowibowo, the great granddaughter of Suharto was caught using crystal methamphetamine, she avoided prison and was only sent to rehab (I wonder if she actually went).

Raffi Ahmad, a local celebrity, has not been tried yet more than 2 years after being arrested with several types of drugs.

The Head of Shariah Police in Aceh, Zulkarnain, crashed his car into a tree in 2013. Hashish was found in his car and he tested positive for drugs. Nothing happened to him. He actually threatened a journalist that if he reported on the story he would be turned to ashes.

Leeza Ormsby, from Australia, was less lucky and she spent 9 months in jail for a joint. A 14-year old Australian boy also spent 2 months in jail for being caught with 3.6 grams of marijuana. Foreigners may have lenient sentences sometimes: Thierry Verchere did only 10 months after being caught with almost $50,000 worth of cocaine which is strange considering another Frenchman, Vincent Petrone, was sentenced to 6 years for 69 grams of hashish (less than $1,000 value).

If you follow Indonesian news, you will read quite often about policemen or military caught using or trafficking drugs. Some reports, though a little dated, mention that it is very common for policemen to keep the drugs confiscated or to sell them.

Yet, it is rare to hear of a policeman being jailed for drug use, and even more to be executed. On the contrary, in some cases it seems like they can benefit from preferential treatment: 34 policemen tested positive, nothing happened.

More recently in April 2015, the death sentences of two Iranians were commuted to life in prison. This came as a surprise because simultaneously, Jokowi was refusing clemency to several inmates, among which some had shown signs of rehabilitation.

The case of Hengky Gunawan is even more disturbing. He was caught with 11.1 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine and materials for drug’s production worth over $1 million but his death sentence was reduced to 15 years in prison and then to 12 years only.

The proportionality of sentences is unfortunately inexistent in Indonesia and there is no improvement in sight on the subject. 

10) Drug is mostly seen as an imported, Western problem

For most Indonesians, the drug problem comes from Foreigners only. Medias and politicians are responsible for that as they tend to misrepresent it as if all the drugs traffic was in the hands of International traffickers. 

They also often forget to mention that large quantities of drugs are produced in Indonesia to be exported. Naturally, since the problem is seen as a Foreign one, Indonesians are very supportive of harsher sentences against them.
Drug use has actually been prevalent in Indonesia for centuries, even long before the Dutch arrived in the country. In the 17th century, numerous documents attest that the use of opium was widespread in Java. The habit of smoking opium by adding it to tobacco was developed in Indonesia before spreading to China. In other parts of Indonesia, some narcotics obtained from plants and trees have also been consumed for ages such as betel nuts in Nusa Tenggara or marijuana in Aceh.

The truth is, Foreigners are part of the problem, but also a big part of the solution. Rehabilitation centers, harm reduction programs, trainings and distribution of needles/medication are largely funded by International donors. 

11) Nightclubs known to be ridden with drugs operate freely and are protected by the police

When police raids or "Razzia" happen in North Jakarta clubs, the result is usually quite small: According to a BNN spokesperson, 100 drug users were arrested in 25 raids last year.

If you have ever been to those clubs, you will understand that there is something wrong. A single raid in a place like Mille's or Golden Crown should cause at least 500 arrests.

The BNN spokesperson also mention that after 25 police raids, they haven't caught a single drug dealer yet: ""Everytime a raid is held, we always encounter in drug users, but never caught a dealer or courier. This proves that drug dealers doesn't always appear in night clubs". 

The BNN seems either very naive or very corrupted. I let you choose one.

It is well known that clubs are always warned in advance when a police raid is planned, thus naturally no dealers will be present. Only a few people who have no clues, including foreigners, will be caught.

After 25 unfruitful raids, maybe the BNN should make an investigation on who informs the clubs? Maybe the BNN should make an investigation on who owns those clubs?

12) Impunity for the bosses of drug trafficking and drug distribution

Since Jokowi has declared a war on drugs, I don't remember of a single mafia boss or big trafficker who has been arrested.

In the past, as mentioned above, known traffickers suck as Hengky Gunawan have escaped not only the death penalty, but also life sentences.

I invite you to read my article about the 30 Groups who Own Jakarta Nightlife to better understand this point. You will learn the links between Tomy Winata, one of Jakarta's alleged mafia boss with some notorious drug-ridden clubs in North Jakarta.

While Indonesia is said to be at war against drugs, I was surprised of see that Tomy Winata paid all the expenses of a trip to Las Vegas on May 21st, 2012 to several police officials and high executives of the National Drug Agency (BNN) including Gories Mere the Head of BNN at that time.

More recently, we could see Tomy Winata together with the new head of the BNN, Anang Iskandar to promote a "Drug Rehabilitation Program"[sic].
Tomy Winata with the head of the National Drug Agency
Top politicians like SBY, Megawati, or current Vice President Yusuf Kalla have been known to frequent him.
Tomy Winata with Megawati, previous President of Indonesia, mentor of Jokowi
Tomy Winata with SBY, former President of Indonesia
Tomy Winata with Yusuf Kalla, current Vice President of Indonesia
Even though Tomy Winata has never been convicted for drugs, he has also never been subject to an investigation.

13) Indonesia is ignoring the fight against illicit financial flows

According to the UN, the most effective method to fight drugs is to combine those three approaches:
  • Reduce demand with prevention programs and treatments
  • Reduce supply by dismantling drug trafficking organizations
  • Control illicit financial flows
We have seen that prevention programs and treatments are ignored by the Government and mostly managed by International aid agencies. The fight against drug trafficking organization by the Government is just smoke and mirrors as it is mostly mules, drug users and small fish that are being caught.

The Government is also failing at controlling its illicit financial flows. According to the Global Financial Integrity organization, Indonesia ranks 11th in the list of countries with the largest illicit financial outflows. In 2012 alone, over $ 20 billion left the country illegally, among which drug money.

Yet, the Government has not shown any commitment in its fight against suspicious funds. Budi Gunawan, currently the number 2 of Indonesia's police force is known to have had over $7 million of suspicious money in his family's bank account. Yet Jokowi didn't push for a proper investigation...

Bonus #14: Indonesia makes no differences between drugs

Marijuana and ecstasy have been known to create less casualties and to be less addictive than alcohol, tobacco or other solvents that are easily available:
Addiction and harm caused by several drugs (from The Lancet)
Yet, Indonesians are made to believe that heroin, ecstasy, mushrooms or marijuana produce the same effects and create the same addiction. Acknowledging that those drugs are different would allow the government to implement more effective solutions.

It makes no sense to send a marijuana or ecstasy smoker in rehabilitation as there is no addiction to the product. I don't see the point of sending these people to jail as well, unless we want millions of Indonesians behind bars. A fine would be more appropriate in my opinion.

Heroin users should absolutely go to rehabilitation as it is proven that most of them cannot get rid of their addiction without medical help.

If heroin and marijuana do not cause the same harm, it would be logic to give their traffickers differentiated sentences as well. 


I am convinced that there is a deliberate effort from the government and the medias to sensationalize the problem of drugs for political gain. I will end this article with a quote from Thích Nhất Hạnh, a buddhist monk and peace activist.
If you are Indonesian, there are 80% chance you disagree with me. Please don't hesitate to comment, I'll love to have an interesting discussion about the topic.

Why So Many Indonesians Resent the West?

By Thibaud (Jakarta100bars) →
If you can read or understand Indonesian, you will discover that while almost everyone condemns the Paris attacks, many are bitter. It has become impossible to express grief for France without being shamed because “other people have died before and you didn’t grieve for them”.

Among Indonesians posting on Facebook, the most popular statuses are not the compassionate ones. Instead, you will read things like "I won't pray for Paris because Paris didn't pray for Palestine, Iraq and Lebanon". Western medias are accused of being biased and having double standards whenever Muslims are involved. Some go further and imply that it is normal to be attacked because France attacked Muslims countries and killed innocent civilians.

Most comments mention humiliation, abuse or neglect they consider developing countries are facing from developed nations. In particular, Muslims feel they are being victimized and blamed whenever there is a terrorist attack. Many believe that ISIS is in fact a creation of Israel and the US to spur troubles in the Middle East (no joke, you can see it here for instance: Was Isis Created by America?). 

Some people feel Facebook is forcing them to use the French flag filter and that it is, again, a proof that lives in the West are worth more than in the rest of the World. This reminded me of the executions earlier this year: Many Indonesians were against clemency because they felt that sparing the inmates' lives would be a sign of submission to foreign influence.

This illustrates the resentment towards the West in Indonesia, even though few Indonesians would directly admit it. For some people, this anger becomes hate. And for some, it becomes madness. I’m convinced that this is exactly the kind of feeling terrorists had in their heart when they blew themselves up. They are no different in that sense from the lone wolves that regularly go on shooting sprees in the US.

A major misunderstanding exists because few Westerners are aware of this silent hatred. Behind the smiles, the “Hello Mister” and the fascination for "white skin", few of them really understand how they are perceived in Indonesia. 

A Negative Perception Based on Stereotypes
Westerners are seen as being rich as a result of the exploitation of the wealth from poorer countries. The difference in wealth is seen as unfair. This is further exacerbated by the feeling that all Westerners have an easily life with cash growing in their backyards. This rhetoric is conveniently repeated by the Indonesian elites (for instance Jokowi here) to shift the blame from themselves to the West in order to justify the poor economical results of the country. 

On the contrary, Westerners will blame corruption for the country’s lack of development. Just look at the list of the World’s most corrupt countries and you can see the obvious link between corruption and development. Corrupt countries are poor, non-corrupt countries are rich. It’s as simple as that.

Westerners are also often viewed as arrogant, rude and “acting like kings”. This is something I can understand as I’ve often seen visitors behave in ways that are not acceptable. In a country where politeness, pride and respect are valued so highly, it is not surprising that many Westerners do not fit. But to say that all foreigners are disrespectful in such ways is racist and untrue. Ask a maid if she prefers being employed by an expat family or an Indonesian family and you’ll see what she has to say...

Another reason Indonesians feel humiliated is that they believe Western countries are racist. Again, while racism exist and is a major issue in Western societies, it is simplistic and dangerous to generalize. Anti-racists are much more numerous and represent the majority of the people. There are no laws in Europe/US/Australia discriminating against the color of one’s skin or a religion. On the contrary, the reason many people from all races are looking to immigrate in those countries is that they know they will benefit from the same rights as others.

In France, it is actually easy for foreigners to obtain citizenship compared to Indonesia, even for “non-white”. Citizenship means that people get access to free medical care, free schooling and social benefits.

Are Indonesians Made to Hate the West?
While there is some legitimate reasons for Indonesians to feel angered by the West, I think that some people try to make things look worse than they really are because they benefit from this hatred.

As I mentioned before, the political elites will explain that the country is not developing as fast as, say Singapore or Japan, because of foreign countries and companies. They will blame also blame colonization, forgetting Indonesia has been independent for 70 years now.

More worrying, I think that some organizations are politically and religiously motivated. For instance, you will notice that Indonesians are obsessed with Jews and Israel. It is not surprising considering the money being poured in the country from Saudi Arabia and the Middle East.

You would be surprised how little a typical Indonesian know about Palestine/Israel, yet almost all Indonesians I know will say they don’t like Jews. Anti semitism is so widespread it is like a reflex that does not need any justification.
The country is not short of contradictions when it come to the Israeli/Palestine conflict. They will support the Palestinians' right to their lands while refusing the same right to Papuans. They will shout "Save Palestinians" but they closed the door to a few hundred Rohingyas. They will mix in the internal politics of Israel but criticize any country interfering with Indonesian internal politics. If you ask them about Tibetans, Kurds, or Armenians, they will wonder what you are talking about.

Most information victimizing Muslims is not accurate. I could give tons of example. For instance, saying that there is no media coverage of the death of Palestinians or Syrians is plain wrong. There is not a day without news from the Middle East in Western media. 

In France, I have heard about the plight of Palestinians every single day since I’m a kid. There is not one topic that is more widely discussed that this one. Every single day you hear about protests, calls for boycotts, exhibitions, charity trips, etc, in favour of Palestinians. There is not an earthquake, a tornado, a bombing, etc that is not reported in the media. We follow everything and we care each time. 

The bombing in Beirut made the headlines of all French newspapers. To accuse French people, and Westerners of not caring for those lives is insulting and hurting. Worse, I think it is a lie intended to create more hatred and to break any possibilities of people uniting.

I was reading a very interesting interview (in French) of an anthropologist, Dounia Bouzar, explaining that the brainwashing of future jihadist starts with the victimization of Muslims. ISIS recruiters show them videos of civilian deaths in Syria, Myanmar, Irak or Palestine and tell them that the rest of the World does not care. Sounds familiar?

I would be very curious to know who were the first persons spreading rumors that the Lebanon attack was not reported on media.

1 Reason It's Hard to Eradicate Prostitution in Indonesia

By Thibaud (Jakarta100bars) →
Strangely, today I saw this picture on instagram showing the outside of a massage parlour in Alam Sutra called Lunatic. As I wrote on Jakarta100bars, sexual services are available there, including blowjobs and nude massage. Handjobs are part of the standard procedure while for additional services, the price must be negotiated directly with the girls. The management warns though that they do not provide condoms and that it is forbidden to engage in sexual intercourse.
The management of Lunatic massage advertises sexual services on public forums
I was surprised to see that several high-ranking policeman sent flower boxes to congratulate the owner and wish him success for the grand opening. When I say they spent money, I reckon it is government money as it seems the flowers were sent from the police offices.

You can see in particular the names of 3 high-ranking police officers with the ranks of "Jenderal", the 3rd and 4rth highest ranks in the Indonesian police.
It is quite common to see the Indonesian police linked with massage parlours. In Bali for instance, I once saw a sign from the police (Polda Bali) that had obviously been paid for by Delta Spa:
It is quite strange to have a private massage parlour sponsoring the activities of the police. Don't they have a budget for printing road safety messages?

I also noticed once that Illigals was congratulating the police for their birthday (see photo below). This is quite incredible to see considering Illigals is one of the famous places in Jakarta to buy illegal drugs (hence their name). It is also a high-class bordello where prostitution is thriving.

It looks like the relationship between them and the police is good in spite of that. No wonder Illigals is considered a "safe" place where "razzias" (police raids) are rare..

The Indonesian government has vowed to eradicate drugs and prostitution from Indonesia within a few years. If it wants to succeed, maybe it should make sure there are no conflicts of interests between the police and the owners of the spas/nightclubs?

Is Indonesia Going Backwards?

By Thibaud (Jakarta100bars) →
Many people believed that Jokowi would modernize Indonesia. They were hoping that he would fight corruption, boost the economy, launch infrastructure programs, reduce the influence of religious mafias and promote Indonesia on the world scene as a modern nation.

To say that those people, including myself, are disappointed is an understatement. 

Jokowi and his team have betrayed the people who voted for them. Not only he did not do what he promised, he did the contrary. A year after he took office, I cannot think of anything positive he has accomplished.

On the contrary, there are several reasons to think that Indonesia is actually going backwards.

Freedom of speech under attack

Indonesia was ranked #132 in the world in 2014 in terms of press freedom by Reporters Without Borders. It dropped 6 places in 2015.

Several foreign journalists have been arrested since the beginning of the year, in particular Rebecca Prosser and Neil Bonner who spent 4 months in jail for not having the proper visas. Journalists used to be deported when it happened in the past, but the current government wants to make it clear that foreign journalists are not welcomed.

Jokowi is also trying to make it harder for journalists to criticize the president, whatever than means.

He declared in August 2015: “Currently there are tendencies that people feel they are ultimately free to behave and voice their opinions as they like. This is less productive when the media only pursues ratings instead of guiding the public to be virtuous and have a productive work culture.”

This led the Alliance of Independent Journalists to issue a statement to warn Jokowi not to mess with press freedom. At the same time, SBY himself criticized the government over a plan to criminalize defamation against the president.

More about this issue: Jokowi and Foreign Press

Overt racism and xenophobia

Under Jokowi, Indonesian nationalism no longer means being proud of the nation’s achievements. It means being racist, xenophobic and blaming foreigners for everything that goes wrong.

Foreigners living in Indonesia have never been more uncomfortable than now. You will never hear from the government that foreigners are actually bringing jobs, investments and dollars. You will never hear that they pay taxes, that they help the economy and that they come with skills and knowledge.

Instead, the dumbest stereotypes are spread in the media even by high-ranking officials and ministers. Just a few weeks ago, Indonesian women were told not to date foreigners because they could be used as drug mules.

This racism can lead to more tragic stories:

Why did Jokowi choose to execute 12 foreigners out of 14 convicts even though there are more Indonesians dealers behind bars? Why the 12 foreigners chosen were almost exclusively from Black, Asian or Latin American ethnicity? Why did Neil Bantleman go to jail, if not for being a foreigner?

Using the death penalty as a TV show

My opinion about the death penalty is that it does not work and I could prove it with detailed studies. You can agree or not, it is not my point today.

What disturbed me the most in the execution of early 2015, apart from the obvious racism, is that the government used them for political gain. They were not about justice or fairness or efficiency. They were a show intended to prove that Jokowi was “tegas” or decisive. 14 dead for a few extra points in the polls.

To me, it just made Indonesia look like a banana republic. It also exposed to the whole world the failures of the Indonesian justice system, its corruption, its incoherences and its incompetence.

Destruction of the anti-graft agency

There was one institution that Indonesians respected and wanted to preserve, the KPK (anti-graft agency). The KPK was pretty much like Batman in Gotham City. It was fighting the crooks on behalf of the common people.

Problem: The whole PDI-P, the political party behind Jokowi, hates the KPK for reasons that are easy to understand. With the help of the Police, it took only a few weeks for them to take down the institution and replace its head with officers they don’t need to be afraid of.

Jokowi never spoke in public about this shameful event, and instead allowed it to happen. The whole nation would have supported him if he had had the gut to say “No”. He didn’t, and that’s how Indonesia lost its fight against corruption and went back 10 years.

Flirting with sharia

Indonesia was never founded as a Muslim state. It has a majority of Muslims, but its laws are not based on the teachings of the Koran (except in Aceh).

Yet, slowly, the rules of Islam are starting to apply to everyone. The most obvious illustration is the recent fight of the government against alcohol. First, it became illegal to sell alcohol in minimarts, then import taxes were doubled, then a law was discussed to forbid alcohol totally, then nightclubs in Bandung and Jakarta were told to stop operations at midnight, etc.

Surprisingly, at the same time, the tobacco industry in Indonesia is enjoying one of the world’s most lenient legislation.

Rupiah hitting all-time low

The rupiah has never been as low as today. Never*. The government says that it is not its fault and that all currencies are losing against the dollar. *edit: It was actually lower on August 1998

Yet how come the Singapore Dollar is appreciating while the Rupiah is depreciating? Is it possible that countries that are attractive to foreign investments perform better?

Economic growth at its lowest level

The economic growth for the second quarter of 2015 was the slowest since 2009. Naturally, the government blames the World economy. The truth is Jokowi did not do anything to spur growth. On the contrary, he has turned off foreign investment with his nationalist and populist speeches. He has raised import tariffs on most goods, making the country more difficult to invest in and more bureaucratic.

In July, he was not ashamed to ask David Cameron to lower import duties for Indonesian goods in England, just a few days after raising them in Indonesia for British products.

Indonesia is less competitive compared to its neighbors Malaysia, Singapore or Thailand. It produces goods of lower quality for a higher price. Instead of trying to improve competitiveness with bold reforms and infrastructure spending, Jokowi is using protectionism: He raises the tax for imports, thus forcing Indonesians to buy lower quality products. This strategy has never worked but it is the best one to protect private interests and large conglomerates.

In the latest Global Competitiveness Survey from the World Economic Forum, released on September 29th 2015, Indonesia fell 3 places and it is the only country in ASEAN not to improve with the exception of Thailand.

Deterioration of its relationships with neighboring countries

Indonesia has damaged its relationship with several key partners, including Australia (who reduced its aid to Indonesia), Malaysia, Singapore, Holland, France and Brazil.

Jusuf Kalla has become a joke for declaring that Malaysia and Singapore should thank Indonesia for 11 months of fresh air in the middle of the haze crisis. He then asked for help, even though the government refused it a few days earlier.

While offending some partners, Indonesia has been very careful with other countries, particularly Saudi Arabia where two Indonesian maids have been executed and 100 pilgrims died following an accident.

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un was also awarded a peace prize by the sister of Megawati Sukarnoputri, the current head of the PDI-P. I wonder if she considers it is an ideal for Indonesia to emulate.


Unfortunately, Jokowi killed any hopes that a better system is possible in Indonesia. This feeling, combined with the country’s refusal to confront its past, in particular a true assessment of the Suharto years, makes the search for a strong man more appealing than ever. I hope Jokowi can prove me wrong in the next 4 years.

13 Reasons the Indonesian Police is the Best in the World

By Thibaud (Jakarta100bars) →
Even though the Indonesian Police is receiving some bad press occasionally, I thought it was time to celebrate their work and ethic through a short illustrated post. I haven't traveled that much in the world, but it seems fair to me to say that the Indonesian Police could be among the best in the planet.

Here are 13 reasons why:

The Indonesian Police is particularly compassionate towards the sick and the elderly.

Pakubuwono XIII is thanking the police for its understanding
In 2015, the King of Solo was asked to provide a DNA sample so the police could check if he raped a 16 years old woman. Unfortunately, the King was feeling unwell that day. The Police understood the situation and dropped the case altogether, allowing one very sick man to remain free. More on the Jakarta Globe: Sick Solo King No Show For Questioning.

The Indonesian Police is a role model for many people who want to be super-heroes.

Angry Mobs are part of Indonesia's folklore
America has Batman, Britain has James Bond, Indonesia has "Angry Mobs". Angry mobs are even better than superheroes: They find the guilty people, they make a trial on the spot, and they execute the sentence. In most cases, the super power of the mob is gasoline but it can also be the mastering of ropes, sticks and knobs. Read more about it in the Economist: Lynching in Indonesia.

The Indonesian Police is not afraid of taking risks.

The bullet-proof vest proved very useful in this high-risk case
In February 2015, the Surabaya Police cracked down on illegal possession of Valentine chocolates and sweets. Even better, they seized condoms from couples who were consenting adults just about to make love. Rest assured, they all went to jail for your very own safety. Read more about it in the Jakarta Globe: Lovers Detained for Doing The Nasty Thing

The Indonesian Police is efficient.

Only Teh Botol and Teh Kotak permitted 
On April 22nd, 2015, it took 60 policemen to seize 20 bottles of alcohol during a citywide raid. According to my sources, 5 Policemen were carrying 4 bottles each and the remaining 55 were assigned to smoking cigarettes. How lucky we are that the police cares some much about health issues. Read more in The Jakarta Post: Police Raid Minimart.

Photo : Budhi Firmansyah Surapati / Beritajakarta.Com

The Indonesian Police is not afraid to admit its mistakes.

That was the picture before Daddy came to visit
Don't you hate people who never admit their mistakes? Indonesian Police does just the contrary. On January 20th 2015, Christopher Daniel Sjarif lost control of his car, killed 4 people and flew the scene. The urine tests came back positive for LSD and the driver himself confessed to taking drugs. Yet, a few days later, the Police said they made a mistake and that the drivers should be released as it was just a "pure accident". Christopher can certainly be happy that the police is not afraid to admit when it is wrong. Read more on the Jakarta Globe: Police Confused About LSD Suspect.

The Indonesian Police protects the innocent child.

The outrageous Panda jumper mobilized Mangga Besar police for a week

As most people, you are truly shocked by the indecent jumper shown in the picture above. Even though it does not really exist and it was just part of a joke, the Indonesian Police preferred to take this issue as seriously as possible and asked for the public's vigilance to prevent anyone from wearing it. Complete story on the DailyMail: Police Warning for Indecent Panda Jumper.

The Indonesian Police is made of angels.

The Police assured the test does not discriminate against women 
Only virgins are accepted in the Indonesian Police force. This makes sense because its moral is so pure that it cannot be corrupted by anyone who had intercourse. We all know that the 250,000,000 Indonesians that populate the country were all created without sexual intercourse. Read more on CNN: Virginity Test for Police Officers.

©Adek Berry (AFP/File)

The Indonesian Police is tremendously respected.

Policemen protecting the shade of a parking lot
The Indonesian people sees its Police force as a perfect example of honesty. In fact, almost 8% of the respondents of a Transparency International 2014 survey estimated that the country's Police Force is not corrupt. That's better than Pakistan and almost as good as Zimbabwe. Only some silly minds complain from time to time but it does not take long before they realize their mistake and apologize. Read more on the Jakarta Globe: Adrianus Apologizes for Calling National Police Corrupt.

Photo Source: Reuters

The Indonesian Police knows how to have fun.

Now who wants weed?
Just like anybody, some Indonesian policemen enjoy a little party and some drugs to blow off steam when needed. The good thing is that unlike other citizens, they don't have to worry too much about going to jail. More in the Jakarta Post: 34 Police Officer Unpunished After Positive Drug Test.

The Indonesian Police is capable of empathy, forgiveness and understanding.

Ahmad Dhani with good pal Himmler
Ahmad Dhani gave his 13 years old son a Mitsubishi Lander as a present. The boy was safely driving at 180 km/hour until it collided with two cars and killed 7 people. The Police concluded there was no wrongdoing on neither Dhani or his son's side and closed the case without charging anybody. Indonesians are so lucky that their Police understood that no one should be blamed for this insignificant matter. Read more on Jakarta Globe: Ahmad Dhani Not Charged.

The Indonesian Police knows about drugs that no other Police in the World knows.

The Policeman on the right is carrying the magic stone in his right hand
While rapists in Europe can keep abusing children as they please, Indonesian Police has discovered a new drug called "Magic Stone" that enables them to make more convictions of rapists. This drug was used by Neil Bantleman from Jakarta International School to rape kids in a "Secret Room" that only the Indonesian Police is able to perceive. Read more on the Jakarta Globe: Police Accuse JIS Teachers of Using Magic Stone.

Photo source: Adi Weda/European Pressphoto Agency

The Indonesian Police is generous.

Come on, come closer from the fire
In March 2015, the Police of Tangerang seized 3,3 tons of Marijuana. After much discussion, they decided that the best way to give back to the community was to make a big open air fire with it so everyone could feel high, free of charge. Read more in the Daily Mail: Entire Tangerang Town Get High.

The Indonesian Policemen are true believers.

In December 2014, the Jakarta Post published a cartoon that was criticizing ISIS in Iraq. The police could not accept that because the word Allah was in the cartoon so they summoned the Jakarta Post editor for questioning. They will not let anyone spread blasphemy. It is good to know that smart people are defending religions. Read More in the National Post: Indonesian Newspaper Accused of Blasphemy.

And finally, the Indonesian Police is fluent in English and knows how to give clear instructions to citizens:
With so many qualities, it is only normal that Indonesian Police officers, especially high ranking ones, receive a fair compensation for their work. I am scandalized when I read people complaining because Budi Gunawan, currently the number 2 Chief Police in the country earned 7,2M USD during his 2-year tenure as head of the Police Career Development. That's only 300,000 USD per month which is just 10X more than Barack Obama's salary. I don't believe this money could have been better used.

First picture source: Aditia Noviansyah